In the storyline of Magic: the Gathering, planeswalkers are among the most powerful beings in the multiverse. Within the game, they represent the thematic identities of the players. Planeswalker is also a card type within the game.
- 1 Within the game
- 2 Rules
- 3 Storyline
- 4 Subtypes
- 5 From "Uniqueness rule" to "Legend rule"
- 6 Planeswalker destruction
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Within the game[edit | edit source]
Player identity[edit | edit source]
Within the game, each player is supposed to be a planeswalker, which is a point emphasized in the current marketing strategy (for example the intro packs' description refers to your opponents as such). This concept originated from the Alpha rule book.
Card type[edit | edit source]
Planeswalkers enter the battlefield with a set number of loyalty counters, printed in the lower right of the card. A planeswalker can be attacked, like a player, or be dealt damage by an opponent redirecting the damage one of his or her spells would deal to the player controlling the planeswalker. Damage dealt to a planeswalker removes that many loyalty counters and a Planeswalker with no loyalty counters is put into the graveyard.
Planeswalkers usually have three abilities: one ability that adds loyalty counters as a cost for a small benefit, one that removes a small amount of counters as a cost for a larger effect, and one that removes a large number of loyalty counters for a big effect. The last effect is commonly referred to as the Planeswalker's Ultimate ability and usually leaves the opponent in a devastated state. The starting loyalty of a Planeswalker is commonly significantly lower than the cost of the Ultimate and a player has to build up the loyalty to access the Ultimate.
Unlike most other cards in a set, planeswalkers are designed by the people who work on Standard (currently the Play Design team, formerly the development team with contributions from people who played in the Future Future League).
Rules[edit | edit source]
Rulings[edit | edit source]
- Planeswalkers are permanents. You can cast one at the time you could cast a sorcery. When your planeswalker spell resolves, it enters the battlefield under your control.
- Planeswalkers are not creatures. Spells and abilities that affect creatures won't affect them.
- All Planeswalkers have supertype "Legendary" and are subject to the "legend rule". Planeswalkers with the same subtypes can exist under your control as long as they are not of the same name.
- Planeswalkers each have a number of activated abilities called "loyalty abilities." You can activate a loyalty ability of a planeswalker you control only at the time you could cast a sorcery and only if you haven't activated one of that planeswalker's loyalty abilities yet that turn.
- The cost to activate a planeswalker's loyalty ability is represented by an arrow with a number inside. Up-arrows contain positive numbers, such as "+1"; this means "Put one loyalty counter on this planeswalker." Down-arrows contain negative numbers, such as "-7"; this means "Remove seven loyalty counters from this planeswalker." You can't activate a planeswalker's ability with a negative loyalty cost unless the planeswalker has at least that many loyalty counters on it.
- Planeswalkers can't attack (unless an effect such as the one from Gideon Jura's third ability turns the planeswalker into a creature). However, they can be attacked. Each of your attacking creatures can attack your opponent or a planeswalker that player controls. You say which as you declare attackers.
- If your planeswalkers are being attacked, you can block the attackers as normal.
- If a creature that's attacking a planeswalker isn't blocked, it'll deal its combat damage to that planeswalker. Damage dealt to a planeswalker causes that many loyalty counters to be removed from it.
- If a source you control would deal noncombat damage to an opponent, you may have that source deal that damage to a planeswalker that opponent controls instead. For example, although you can't target a planeswalker with Shock, you can target your opponent with Shock, and then as Shock resolves, choose to have Shock deal its 2 damage to one of your opponent's planeswalkers. (You can't split up that damage between different players and/or planeswalkers.) If you have Shock deal its damage to a planeswalker, two loyalty counters are removed from it.
- Note that R&D is looking at removing the "planeswalker redirection rule" at some point in the near future.
Trivia[edit | edit source]
- There are 33 multicolored planeswalkers.
- There are 2 colorless planeswalkers.
- There has been at least one printed planeswalker for each of the two colored pairs.
- Only three planeswalkers have been printed with a color identity of three colors: Sarkhan, Tamiyo and Nicol Bolas. In addition, Ajani has been associated with three colors, but not all at the same time, and Sarkhan has an association with four colors across all his cards.
- Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Garruk, Apex Predator, Chandra, Torch of Defiance and Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh are the only planeswalkers with 4 loyalty abilities. All others have 3, with the exceptions of Garruk Relentless, who has a total of five loyalty abilities or six abilities of any kind, counting the back side Garruk the Veil-Cursed, and Arlinn Kord, who has a total of 5; two on her human side and 3 on her transformed side.
- Planeswalker was featured as rules cards 1-3 of 5 in the Lorwyn set and 1 of 9 in the Magic 2011 set.
- All Planeswalkers are in the Mythic Rare rarity, except for Ajani Goldmane, Jace Beleren, Liliana Vess, Chandra Nalaar, and Garruk Wildspeaker, due to their debut in the Lorwyn block, while the Mythic Rare rarity was not introduced until the following block, Shards of Alara.
- Karn, Narset, Nicol Bolas, Ob Nixilis, Samut, Teferi, Venser, and Xenagos have all been printed as both planeswalker cards and legendary creature cards, and Gideon, Jace, Liliana, Chandra, and Nissa have all been printed as double-faced cards that are legendary creatures on one side and planeswalkers on the other.
Most unique planeswalker cards[edit | edit source]
Some characters are favored more than others, usually resulting in a higher amount of unique cards of them.
- 9 cards: Jace
- 8 cards: Chandra, Nissa
- 7 cards: Ajani, Liliana
- 6 cards: Gideon
- 5 cards: Garruk (Garruk Relentless notably is a double-faced card, with both sides being planeswalkers; in this case, it is still considered one card.)
- 4 cards: Sorin, Sarkhan, and Tezzeret
- 3 cards: Elspeth, Nicol Bolas, Huatli, and Vraska
Loyalty counters[edit | edit source]
- Sarkhan the Mad, Ugin, the Spirit Dragon and Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh have the most loyalty counters (7) when they come onto the battlefield.
- Nissa Revane, Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded and Kiora, the Crashing Wave have the fewest loyalty counters (2) when they come onto the battlefield.
Storyline[edit | edit source]
Story[edit | edit source]
Planeswalkers can be born at random in any sapient species, with no outward signs of their latent power. However, there is an incredibly remote chance that any given sentient, natural being will be born with a planeswalker's spark. When that being is put through a period of extreme stress—in many cases death—the spark can trigger, causing the individual to ascend and become a planeswalker.
The defining trait of planeswalkers is the ability to travel between separate universes with ease, while the vast majority of people throughout the multiverse are not even aware that other worlds beside their own exist. Planeswalking is a form of magic. With enough time and mana, or with specialized spell knowledge, or with access to enormous power, it's possible for a planeswalker to transfer clothing, artifacts and/or creatures with them as they planeswalks. 
A planeswalker is specifically a being who possesses a planeswalker's spark. The planeswalker spark is more or less a one-in-a-million thing in sentient beings, and having it ignite is even rarer.  There are other beings who, through various means, are able to travel between planes, but those are not technically considered planeswalkers (Marit Lage, the Eldrazi and the Myojin of Night's Reach are the best-known examples). Many prerevisionist characters were referred to as planeswalkers but may not technically have been; without any further information, they remain subject to debate.
Traditional planeswalkers[edit | edit source]
Planeswalkers had incredible magical capabilities, surpassing all but the most powerful mortal wizards. Their lives could last indefinitely, and their physical forms were matters of will as they were energy projections of a center of consciousness. Through intense effort, planeswalkers could create their own artificial planes. Because of planeswalkers' prolonged life spans and immense power, some are worshipped as gods; many end up insane, or, at the very least, they come to regard the lives of mortals in low-esteem, if even at all.
Current planeswalkers[edit | edit source]
The new breed of planeswalkers no longer display the near-omnipotence of their predecessors. While they are usually powerful mages, they are still physical beings that in general age normally, can be harmed, and need the same sustenance as other mortals. This is in stark contrast to the earlier planeswalkers. Some of them have managed to suppress or avoid some of these limitation by magical means; however, these are specific to each planeswalker.
The new breed manifested itself for the first time in Venser of Urborg, a Dominarian artificer who participated in the solution of the Dominarian temporal crisis. Teferi's first theory was that the rifts mutated Venser's spark, which affected his ascension.
The new breed was born during the Mending, when Jeska sacrificed her life and her spark to mend all temporal rifts in the Multiverse (doing so in such a great scale was probably enabled by her former existence as Karona, the embodiment of Dominarian magic, and the fact that Dominaria is the Nexus of the Multiverse). The Mending caused a change in the very rules of Multiverse and a change in the nature of the planeswalker sparks.
Reasons for change[edit | edit source]
Pivotal for the Mending was the creative team's long-standing wish to make planeswalkers more identifiable. Toning them down provided a solution that also cleared the ways for the new Planeswalker card type. This in turn allowed planeswalkers to be not only the focus of the storyline but also of brand identity.
Reception[edit | edit source]
As with most changes, the reactions were mixed. Some deemed it unnecessary to kill off existing characters, arguing that they could have been altered to fit the new approach. Others felt that diminishing their powers made the characters less interesting. Additional criticism was directed at the way the Mending was handled in the Time Spiral Cycle. An open letter was written to Brady Dommermuth that summarizes these viewpoints on Phyrexia.com.
Discussions on differences between the old and new planeswalkers spawned many (sometimes malicious) names for the latter type, generally to make them easier to refer to, but also to show how much they differ from the original ones. Among the most popular are "neowalkers", from Greek neos ("new"), and "Bradywalkers", named after Brady Dommermuth, creative director. For the same (non-malicious) reason, the original breed of planeswalker is often referred to as "oldwalkers."
Subtypes[edit | edit source]
Planeswalker Commanders[edit | edit source]
As from Commander 2014, some planeswalkers (some pre-Mending and no longer involved in the story arc, others active neowalkers) are now represented as Planeswalkers that can be used as commanders. 5 of these were printed in Commander 2014, their subtypes being Daretti, Freyalise, Nahiri, Nixilis, and Teferi.
From "Uniqueness rule" to "Legend rule"[edit | edit source]
Planeswalker cards used to have a similar rule to the "Legend rule": If a player controls two or more planeswalkers that share a planeswalker type, that player chooses one of them, and the rest are put into their owners’ graveyards. This was called the “planeswalker uniqueness rule.”
Starting with Ixalan, this rule was abandonded. All planeswalkers past, present, and future gained the supertype legendary and became subject to the "legend rule". Thus, if a player controls more than one legendary planeswalker with the same name, that player chooses one and puts the other into their owner's graveyard. This means for example that if you control Jace, Unraveler of Secrets and cast Jace, Cunning Castaway, both Jaces now can exist under your control.
There's no current plan to create non-legendary planeswalkers.
Planeswalker destruction[edit | edit source]
Black is the primary color that can destroy planeswalkers, often using "destroy creature or planeswalker". Green doesn't call out planeswalker by name (Nissa's Defeat being an exception), but can "destroy target noncreature." Red is not listed here because it uses redirected damage to deal with planeswalkers rather than destroy them outright.
References[edit | edit source]
- Magic Arcana. (June 10, 2009.) “What's That Symbol?”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- John Carter. (December 25, 2004.) “The Original Magic Rulebook”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater. (November 05, 2007.) “Planeswalk on the Wild Side, Part I”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater. (November 12, 2007.) “Planeswalk on the Wild Side, Part II”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater. (August 05, 2013.) “Twenty Things That Were Going To Kill Magic”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater. (September 3, 2007.) "Planeswalker Rules. Planeswalking the Walk", magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast. (Internet Archive snapshot)
- Doug Beyer. (September 10, 2007.) “The Era of the Planeswalker”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Melissa DeTora. (January 19, 2018.) “Designing Rivals of Ixalan Planeswalkers”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Aaron Forsythe on Twitter
- Doug Beyer. (December 12, 2007.) “Goodies from the Mailbag”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Doug Beyer. (June 24, 2009.) “Odd Job”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Matt Cavotta. (September 06, 2007.) “The Last Quack”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Squeeman. (June 26, 2007.) Dear Brady Dommermuth
- Matt Tabak. (August 28, 2017.) “Ixalan Mechanics”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater. (August 28, 2017.) "Why was there a need to make planeswalkers legendary?", Blogatog, Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater. (August 28, 2017.) "Having multiple versions of the same planeswalker character out seems 'wrong'.", Blogatog, Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater. (September 02, 2017.) "Do you think it's a flavor fail to be able to summon more than one of the same legendary character from the Multiverse?", Blogatog, Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater. (October 16, 2017.) “Odds & Ends: Ixalan, Part 2”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater. (June 5, 2017.) “Mechanical Color Pie 2017”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
[edit | edit source]
- Brady Dommermuth. (August 16, 2007.) "You Are a Planeswalker", magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast. (Internet Archive snapshot)
- Erik Lauer. (October 19, 2007.) “Playtesting Planeswalkers”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Wizards of the Coast. (October 22, 2007.) “Planeswalker Enchantment Art”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Devin Low. (October 26, 2007.) “The Nineteen Principles for Developing Planeswalkers”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Doug Beyer. (October 24, 2007.) “Planeswalkers Unmasked”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Doug Beyer. (June 04, 2008.) “Planeswalkers and the Written Page”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Wizards of the Coast. (July 25, 2008.) “You Are a Planeswalker”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Tom LaPille. (January 09, 2009.) “To Kill a Planeswalker”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Doug Beyer. (March 18, 2009.) “Planeswalking into Conflict”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- "A Planeswalker's Primer for Conflux: Planeswalkers" — YouTube
- Doug Beyer. (May 19, 2010.) “Planeswalker Potpourri”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Adam Lee. (August 25, 2010.) “Slime, Trials, and the Inner Garruk”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Doug Beyer. (August 03, 2011.) “The Bloodthirsty Chef”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Doug Beyer. (November 09, 2011.) “Six Ways to Fail at Creative Endeavors”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Doug Beyer. (June 17, 2014.) “Checking in on the Planeswalkers”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Gavin Verhey. (January 26, 2017.) “Walkership Down”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Gavin Verhey. (June 29, 2017.) “Death to Planeswalkers”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.